You know the symptoms of a cold: stuffy nose, cough, headache, water eyes, even mucus buildup. But those symptoms also manifest in a sinus infection. So how can you tell the difference, and when do you take your child to the ENT?
Here are three simple questions to ask to help discern:
- How long have the symptoms lasted?
With colds, your child may experience a runny nose for two or three days followed by a stuffy nose for two or three days. Other symptoms may creep in and peak at day five with everything clearing up and disappearing within 7-10 days. A sinus infection introduces additional symptoms like facial pressure and greenish mucus just keeps going lasting much longer.
- Does your child have a fever?
A fever and headache lasting three to four days is typical in sinus infections. A cold may bring on a fever, but it will usually occur within the first day or two.
- What color is the nasal discharge?
Colds may produce nasal discharge that yellows after the first day or two but then becomes clear again and dries. Sinus infections bring yellowish greenish nasal discharge consistently for four or five days.
So, when do you take your child to the ENT?
Sinus infections track a progression of symptoms similar to colds but increasingly more severe in their discomfort. If your child’s symptoms do not clear up within 7 days or get gradually worse, it is time to see the doctor who may prescribe an antibiotic.